Case study

Assistant print designer — Lara Oztekin

As well as working for a London fashion supplier, Lara also runs her own eco-friendly business, creating and selling art prints and cards. Find out her top tips for becoming a successful print designer

What degree did you study?

I studied for a degree in textile design specialising in print and surface design at Birmingham City University.

How did you get your job?

After completing my degree, I applied for an internship at Dennis Day Ltd and was offered a full-time position as an assistant print designer.

During March 2020 I was furloughed and used this spare time to set up my own business, Lara Oztekin Designs, painting houseplant illustrations to sell as art prints and greeting cards.

How relevant is your degree?

The knowledge I gained through my degree at BCU, particularly textile processes and design, is essential to my current position. I draw on this experience daily and my university training helped me quickly learn and understand the principles for designing commercially.

I also spent substantial time practising painting skills - this has been invaluable when designing my own products. Business modules from the course were beneficial in setting up Lara Oztekin Designs.

What's a typical working day like?

I design print collections for clients, prep artwork for production and liaise with mills. I carry out trend research from high-street brands and catwalks to inform new designs for future client meetings.

For my own business I create new designs, promote my brand through social media, communicate with stockists, pack and post orders, order stock and process invoices.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have enjoyed learning about the commercial world in my current role, seeing the design and manufacturing process from initial concept to product. Working alongside other creatives has been fun and exciting and I've gained skills that have helped in my own business.

I also love working with my own products and seeing how happy customers are when they receive them.

What are the challenges?

Having sole responsibility for manufacturing printed textiles at Dennis Day, there are challenges and pressure because I am accountable for the quality of the finished product.

For my personal business, there have been technical challenges when introducing new products, but as these issues arise, I communicate with my manufacturers to reach a solution that works well for both parties.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

In five years, my ideal situation would be for my personal brand to have expanded enough to allow me to be fully self-employed or work part time alongside my business.

What advice can you give to others?

  • The majority of design roles require a year's experience so work experience is essential. Although I completed a month's work experience, I wish I had done more during university.
  • Work experience can be financially challenging, so take advantage of any competitions, opportunities and external projects available to extend your experience. You will benefit in some way, by gaining experience, connections or exposure.
  • Contacts and connections are crucial, so network as much as you can either in person or via social media.
  • My final tip is to explore any ideas you have as you never know where it may lead. Good luck.

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